Accountability and transparency within our institutions and leadership.
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http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1115705340544May. 11, 2005Outcry over light sentence for soldier who raped cousinBy DAN IZENBERG In a decision that triggered harsh criticism, the Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday sentenced a 21-year-old soldier to six months of community service and an NIS 20,000 fine after he pleaded guilty to charges of rape and committing an indecent act against his first cousin. The panel of three judges headed by Shelly Timan accepted the findings of social workers and a psychiatrist who interviewed the defendant and concluded that it was crucial not to interrupt the treatment he had started receiving to deal with his psychological problems after the affair was revealed. Yitzhak Kadman, head of the National Council for the Child, said that once again, "the judicial system has failed to protect children who are victims of sexual assault." The soldier's punishment was like the sentences the court hands down to people who close their balcony without a permit, he said. According to the charges, the soldier assaulted his cousin, who is now almost 15, for the first time five years ago. In the first incident, he removed her panties, touched her vagina and put her hand on his penis. Four other incidents occurred over the next few years until the end of 2003 or beginning of 2004, when the girl told him stop. The soldier's mother and the girl's father were siblings and the two families were very close. The girl eventually complained to the police and the soldier immediately confessed. Before deciding to convict him, the state and the defendant's lawyer agreed to have him undergo psychodiagnostic testing, which included an assessment of whether he posed a sexual threat and an assessment by the social services. Although the parties had agreed on the wording of the indictment, they failed to reach agreement on the sentence that should be handed down. The prosecution demanded three years in jail, while the defense asked for a punishment short of imprisonment. The psychodiagnostic testing indicated that the soldier had suffered from severe lack of love in his childhood, which affected his conduct and made it difficult for him to control his impulses. He suffered from low self-esteem, and felt lonely and alienated. He yearned for a close relationship and suffered emotionally for the lack of it. The soldier had failed to develop and mature. He was raised in a strict, Orthodox environment and was repressed sexually and in other ways. He felt deeply guilty for his actions toward his cousin. The social worker wrote that the soldier was not a pedophile and had no other permanent sexual deviation. He recommended that the defendant begin psychological treatment. Since then, the soldier has been in group therapy together with other sex offenders and is also undergoing private psychiatric treatment. In later assessments, the social workers reported that he was highly motivated, wanted to understand the source of his problems and was making progress. Timan wrote that the findings of the experts "were of great help in enabling the court reach its decision." The soldier, who serves in an elite combat unit, also received warm recommendations from his commanding officers. The emotional damage to the girl was severe, the judges found. Her studies suffered and she had trouble making friends with girls and boys. She had trouble sleeping and eating and her hair fell out until she was left bald. After the sexual assaults were disclosed, she showed signs of post-traumatic stress. Her problems were made more severe by the fact that her father was not convinced that she had told the truth about the incidents. The state prosecutor told the court that it would help her recovery if the soldier was sentenced to jail because it would affirm her innocence. But Timan ruled that the soldier had expressed regret, cooperated fully in the trial, confessed to his guilt and expressed concern for the welfare of his cousin. The judge also accepted the experts' assessments and testimony that the therapy the soldier was undergoing was helpful and should not be interrupted. "The [experts] all expressed their opinion that the successful therapy treatment up until now points to a real possibility of rehabilitation, and that putting him in jail will break the continuity, weaken him and cause him to regress, if not break down altogether," wrote Timan.
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